Wednesday, May 25, 2011


The last week of peaceful protests and thousands occupying the main squares of cities in Spain brought to mind the idealism of the 60's.  Protest before we are sunk in the total mire of banker and corporate greed with no concern to mother earth or the future generations. The effectiveness is yet to be seen but I can hope "that better world" of health care, social justice, and opportunity extends to the US.  After all, utopian ideas were part of a foundation of the US and vestiges of those communities still exist in this area- Chautauqua, Lilly Dale to name two. 
And a poem I dug up on the theme:


Sometimes with your presence,
I dream creation,
cottonmouth babies
in a city of bliss,
Floating further than the Lusitania,
far off in panicked seas.
I dream seafoam
on a perfectly set Sunday
in which kindness, the absolute, reigns.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Congo, Peace Corps, and Dominique Strauss Kahn

What  do the Congo, the Peace Corps, and Dominique Strauss Kahn have in common?  Rape. The crime that exists so many levels- political, personal, social, and military.  The news about the Peace Corps hiding rapes was surprising- the women were convinced not to report the rapes that occurred in the different countries they were serving in.  One woman was told to say in the report given to the organization that she was drunk.  And these were college educated young women dealing with a United States agency.  Yet they were unable to speak out.
Which leads to Dominique Strauss Kahn.   He was notorious in France for being a sexual predator.  One woman who had worked with him said she made it a point to never be alone with him.  There is probably no doubt he is capable of sexual assault but was it a set-up?  I’d like to think we’ve reached a point where an immigrant woman who cleans hotel rooms (a job my mother did when she came to this country) could stand up and accuse an international leader of this.  It’s difficult to picture- she could be afraid of losing her job or the repercussions of such an accusation.  Bravo to her to overcome all of that!   If it is so, we really have made progress.  A small bright point in the midst of horrors.
  Then there is the Congo. 400,000 rapes in 12 month period of 2006-7.  The mind boggles. 
It was Adrienne Rich’s birthday.  Here’s her poem:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


What defines pleasure?  Here in Buffalo, it's simple.  Nature, in a word.  A cardinal spotted from my window- the splash of red against the total cover of green.  Color after such a long winter.

There in Barcelona (my life left behind) pleasure was a constant stimulus of people, new architecture, art, and music.  A walk to the sea past the crowds in motion, a coffee on a terrace, a 3 or 4 course meal in the countryside or on the beach, the breeze off the sea.  A glass of cava- watching bubbles rise up the side of the glass, a mountain hike with the scent of thyme or rosemary with each step, or a nightlife with no end. 

Here apart from nature surrounding I've had to create almost every single stimulus, looking for any inspiration that might lead to a poem or a story.  I understood as soon as I arrived - I exchanged the life of pleasure for one of service.

Here's a poem:

Another Look at Happiness

Not the shock of orange leaves,
autum so bright it hurts,
Not your eyes tight on mine,
the stomach fall of your kiss.

Nor my country, Spain, distant
steeped in red wine and salt,
nor your Burma,
smell of woodsmoke and green,
when you close your eyes.

But this small space within
where solitude cushions
each fearless act.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Urban gardens and an hommage to dirt

   It's spring finally and despite the endless rain and chill, the earth is warm.  This I found out when I worked in the urban garden on Sunday.  We planted lettuce and kale- one of those hardly tasteless vegetables that nonetheless has cute curly leaves especially when it's this tiny.  My hands had a memory of their own, placing each plant in the dirt that we first weeded (can weeds survive even a Buffalo winter?) and then broke up the clumps of dirt.  This is a city garden that Jessica and Dan organized on vacant lots, the most recent lot, the result of a crack house that burned down last summer.  As a matter of fact, we watched the smoke rising from its roof.
   There is a romanticism in a garden like this, save the neighborhood with vegetables and that is one step from saving the world.  There is also (more frighteningly) an idea that peak oil will hit and we'll all be converted into survivalists.  I go towards romanticism and my own love of the dirt of life.  After all I did grow up on a farm. 

 Here's an old poem (that needs a lot of work) from my Barcelona days. 

Terrace Series

One by one I pull out weeds,

roots a straight white line.

Plunging fingers into earth,

even store bought,


A lizard flashes behind

the stark white planter

his  regrowth

I'd claim as mine,

He reminds what isn't,

no temperate easing

into bright summer skies.

The green parrots

arrive all in a flurry,

surprise guests from afar.

Terrace Series Part 2

The tree, geotropic

leaves a crook to sit on,

Tarzan rope

swings down the hill

next to the house,

the only one,

recreated from an exile’s